Not long ago, Brandon Flowers told his Killers bandmates that he was pushing ahead with his first solo album, titled Flamingo. "I said, 'This isn't about getting attention or proving something, it's just what I'm accustomed to doing,' " he explains. "Also, there's a bit of a fear of mine to not perform for a long time. For seven years I've been cultivating this — really working on trying to be comfortable onstage."
Most of the songs for Flamingo, due in September, were written on the road while supporting the Killers' most recent disc, Day & Age. "These songs have an isolation to them that Killers records don't have. It's a little less keyboard, and a little more acoustic, so I started thinking about other people we could bring in," says Flowers. "So I shot for the stars, and we got Daniel Lanois."
Soon, Lanois joined Stuart Price (who produced Day & Age) at work on the disc. "It was strange at first," says Flowers. "There was a bit of a clash between Daniel and Stuart — which was actually pretty awesome to watch happen — and by the end of it, they were hugging each other." Their standout collaboration is "Playing With Fire," the haunting track in which Flowers, who grew up Mormon, sings, "Because I pray at a church with no steeple, doesn't mean I can't walk with God." He explains, "That song is about my journey. My parents let me live home [in Utah] when I was 15 to go to Las Vegas to find whatever it was I was looking for. And at that time I hadn't been going to church. But I don't think that just because you don't go to church you forfeit the right of having any guidance or help from God."
Flamingo is heavy with tales of desolate landscapes and personal redemption. "As I get older, I have this desire to represent Las Vegas," he says. "When the Killers first came out, a lot of people thought we were English, and it touched a chord in me, because my roots are very American." The album's title is derived from Flamingo Road, a prominent Vegas thoroughfare, far away from the neon lights of the Strip. Sam's Town casino — the namesake of the Killers' second album — sits on the road, Flowers' first job was at the nearby Wynn Country Club, and after work he'd spend his money at Tower Records on Flamingo and Maryland Parkway. "Then it turned into a vintage store and that's where I met my wife." It's not all a lovefest, though. On the track "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" Flowers peels back the sheets to reveal Vegas' underbelly. "There's the hookers, the drugs, people losing their retirements, all under the façade of these neon lights. It's kind of a heartbreaker."
Another highlight is "From Nogales to Magdalena," which Flowers says was inspired by a a documentary about a pilgrimage. "People walk 60 miles with a prayer or wish in their heart, every year on October 4th," he says. "I'm thinking about doing it." A session with producer Brendan O'Brien yielded the album's first single, the acoustic-driven "Crossfire." "That's my son Ammon's favorite," says Flowers, smiling. "Kids can always pick the hits."